What is 90% tit-for-tat?

We talked about game theory and the prisoner’s dilemma in the previous post (Click here for Part 1: Game theory in 5 minutes). The implication is real and thus it is vital that we understand the best approach to adopt in such situations

Recall that the problem with the prisoner’s dilemma is that one’s action is dependent on the other party’s action. Obviously the problem is we don’t know what’s the other person’s action is going to be! If only!

There are 2 distinctive scenarios here:

  1. one off circumstances
  2. repeated circumstances

While there may be no optimal solution for one off circumstances, the proposed solution to repeated circumstances is 90% tit for tat

What I mean by that is:

  1. Always start by cooperating
  2. Randomize response ( cooperate or defect) in repeated circumstances – up to 90%
  • this means that we may choose to cooperate the second time even though the other party defects the first time

Why?

In repeated scenarios, we could do one of the followings

  • always cooperate
  • always defect
  • cooperate/defect first then follow the last response of the other party
  • 90% tit for tat

The problem with #3 is that we may get into a vicious defect defect scenario and obviously we will be worse off than 90% tit for tat strategy

What this means is that we may choose to be more forgiving in the first instance.

In the long run, we will be indeed better off.

p/s: suggested reading: Prisoner’s Dilemma by William Poundstone

14 thoughts on “What is 90% tit-for-tat?”

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    1. hello, sure. thats esactly what i plan to do – updating the posts as i age/gain more experience

      in the meantime, assuming you like game theory, you may want to check out a book called Prisoner’s Dilemma by William Poundstone

      have a nice day mate

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